Nothing captures the holiday spirit for Sarah Darling like White Christmas.
"I grew up in cold, midwest, Mitchellville, Iowa. I experienced a ton of white Christmases — real white Christmases," the country artist said during a special holiday-themed Pop Culture Performance. "To me that song is magic."
The Christmas favorite — which you can watch in the video above — is one of seven songs on Darling's Winter Wonderland album. Another favorite is her cover of River by Joni Mitchell — for a nostalgic reason that might resonate with others.
"I remember hearing it for the first time and falling in love with it," she said. "[I was] probably 10 years old."
Not much later, Darling moved to Nashville, where she made it as a top three finalist on Wayne Newton's game show, The Entertainer. Even though she didn't win, Newton said he saw something special in her.
"He was like, 'You need to go write songs,'" Darling recalled. "I felt like he was being so genuine."
That's what she's been doing ever since. She's spent the last 15 years in Nashville, where she lives when not performing at sold-out shows in Britain.
"One of the most amazing feelings happened this past year," Darling said. "I went over and had no idea what to expect. I’m a country singer from Nashville had no idea what to expect in the U.K.
"The reaction was so warm and loving that i kind of just want to keep coming back. And now fast forward three years to now, I’m selling out my first headlining shows and people are singing back my songs."
Connecting with fans is more important to Darling than the genre.
"It makes you really emotional because you realize it’s not just about a genre," she said. "The stories translate anywhere in the world. That’s what’s so special about country music to me and seeing it unwind that way."
Darling loves the little moments that allow her to enjoy the moment while she's up onstage, like when she performed "Whiskey Lullaby" with Brad Paisley at the Grand Ole Opry.
"Just a few days ago I played my 87th performance [at the Opry] and I was completely nervous still because you just feel something on that stage knowing that all these greats have come before me," she said, adding that the stained glass windows at the Ryman Theater, where the Opry moves to in the wintertime, give performing there a "heavenly" feel.
Darling always finds new ways to enjoy the moment no matter how many times she plays a show, whether at the Grand Ol Opry or at a sold-out show overseas.0comments
"The more that I play, you start to enjoy the moment," she said. "I always feel like that's the greatest thing when you can step out on stage and enjoy it and connect with people."
On top of her Christmas album, Darling is planning to release three singles from her new album starting March 2.